The Baldrige Program at NIST has been working diligently on the next revision of the Baldrige Excellence Framework; the 2023-2024 Framework with its Criteria is expected to be published in January 2023. There will be three versions: Business/Nonprofit, Health Care, and Education. In addition, the shorter version of the framework, Baldrige Excellence Builder, will be updated and published in 2023. The Baldrige Program has set a goal to simplify the Framework as much as possible – making it more user-friendly without losing any robustness.
You’ll recall that we reported back in November that the program, which was suspended in 2022 with no award program taking place, was going through a serious overhaul – redesigns in the examination process that had already occurred, the overseer review, which was aimed at reducing barriers that were hindering the process, and the external review, which was to be handled in the future by a contracted 3rd party, with NIST stating, “The external review will be performed by an independent organization [Rios Partners]. The external review will consider the review initiated by the overseers and will ensure that the Baldrige Program benefits from a genuinely outside perspective.”
How has the Baldrige Criteria evolved over the last ten years?
The last decade has seen a lot of changes in the Baldrige Criteria as it continues to evolve to better meet the business needs of today and to guide modern firms toward organizational excellence – a term that means something very different than it did 10 years ago, and even more so than when the program started back in 1987. In order for businesses to be competitive as we march into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, quality management in a traditional sense, while still a critical component, is hardly enough. Firms must have robust risk management and business continuity strategies, be more data-driven than ever before, implement robust cybersecurity controls, understand best practices in complex change management, truly embrace DEI as a part of their business strategy, and, above all else, they must incorporate sustainability as a primary component of their business model.
Changes in the Framework focused on strengthening organizations’ awareness of the need for organizational resilience, the benefits of DEI, and the ongoing digitization of nearly all aspects of organizational operations and management. The Framework also clarified the role that innovation plays in organizational competitiveness and expanded the focus on social responsibility.
The changes during this period focused on raising organizations’ awareness of business ecosystems, organizational culture, supply chain networks, and cybersecurity.
The 2017-2018 Framework saw a focus on strengthening cybersecurity and enterprise risk management (ERM).
Three key themes evolved during this time:
- Change management
- Big data
- Climate change
Three key considerations were in focus for 2013-2014:
- Designing and implementing competitive work systems
- Cultivating and managing innovation
- Mastering the evolving opportunities and challenges presented by social media
What changes are expected in the 2023-2024 criteria?
Baldrige staff members have conducted interviews with experts in their fields to gather input as well as receiving feedback submitted to NIST or discussed during six webinars that were conducted over the spring. For expert interviews, staff members targeted experts to discuss how innovation is handled in the Criteria as well as population health to improve the Health Care Criteria. The following key concepts and critical issues are the primary focus of the updated criteria and where we will expect to see the most changes and emphasis in the new revision coming out in January.
- Agility, resilience, and transformation
- Workforce retention
- Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility
- Supply-chain resilience
- Societal contributions, sustainability, and the circular economy
- The digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution
As we stated in our previous article about the external review from Rios Partners:
The Baldrige program has a lot yet to offer, and the need for American organizations to adopt best practices and strive for oganizational excellence in order to maintain competitiveness on the world stage is as relevant today as when the program was first established under the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987 (Public Law 100-107), especially when we hold true to free-market ideals that we claim and reject the urge for protectionism. But just because the need is still there in which the program was intended to fulfill does not mean that the program, in its current state, is capable of doing that. We at Isometric, acknowledging that this need is just as true today as ever, are hopeful that the outcome of this review will be an improved BPEP that is more well-suited to fulfill its intended purpose – the US economy is banking on it.
We remain hopeful that the Baldrige Framework and award program will continue to reinvent themselves to not only remain relevant, but to guide American businesses past Total Quality Management and to a position of true excellence and competitiveness.